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Home > The Sage Who Transcended Samsara

47 Unexpected Fortune

 In an otherwise average-looking courtyard stood a number of strong, healthy Bodhi trees, creating a canopy of deep green shade.

This courtyard was known as the Bodhi Yard, a place in the Shaolin Temple devoted to studying the Teachings of Buddhism and understanding Zen. It could be compared to the Dharma Yard, a place devoted to practicing martial arts. The Elders in the Bodhi Yard, however, were all highly skilled in martial arts, no less so than those of the Dharma Yard, in the likeness of Luohan.

The reason for this was that Shaolin was a branch of Buddhism. Almost all master Kung Fu techniques required a clean Zen heart. The deeper the understanding of the Teachings of Buddhism and the more desires were abandoned, the more likely to reach Enlightenment, resulting in rapid progress in martial arts.

Within the Bodhi Yard, in a meditation room with only a few hassocks, sat an old monk. His appearance was like that of an old dried up tree; only a few rare eyebrows and whiskers remained on his face. He knocked on a wooden fish and said in a hollow voice, "Nephew Xuan Bei, why do you insist on taking Zhen Ding as a disciple?"

The handsome but gloomy Xuan Bei had not yet opened his mouth when another kind-eyed monk said leisurely, "Nephew Xuan Bei, I am not opposed to you taking Zhen Hui as a disciple; the Deacon Monks of the Chores Yard and the Warrior-monk Yard all commend him as earnest, and he is suitable to go with the Teachings of Buddhism. But Zhen Ding is another case. In the Chores Yard, he has shown himself to have an unstable temper and he is prone to trickery. In the Warrior-monk Yard, he has shown himself to be a bully with no compassion. How then can we take him as a disciple of Shaolin?"

The dried-up old monk added, "Zhen Ding indeed has had some great achievements, but when it comes to who to pass Shaolin on to, his temperament must be the most important thing to be considered. A disciple does not need to be completely pure with no trickery in his heart, but at the very least he cannot be domineering or have the tendency to bully. Take my advice, and you'd better let him choose a special technique of storing Qi as a reward."

The custom was for the Elders of the Bodhi Yard and Dharma Yard to observe the monks in the Chores Yard and the Warrior-monk Yard, and then consult with the Deacon Monks. Then, they would select which disciples to pass on the ways of Shaolin to.

Of course, this selection process could only be successful to a certain degree. Every generation was bound to have a few monks go astray, betraying the Temple and Buddha. They would be polished on the outside but rotten on the inside. In fact, there were already some older monks in the Dharma Yard who had become stubborn and unteachable. Towards those young disciples who were being trained, the elders encouraged them with the Teachings of Buddhism to avoid them wandering astray in the future.

Xuan Bei had wrinkles near the corner of his eyes from frowning. He stared into the distance and emptily said, "Uncle Masters, Zhen Ding has not been a bully in the Warrior-monk Yard. It is Zhen Liang who is inclined to bully others and show off. Zhen Ding is prone to taking action when he sees injustice, and though his actions may not always be right, his heart is not evil."

He entered the temple later without a solid foundation in his life, so he was used to speaking like a martial-arts fighter, not a monk.

The monks at present were all of the "Wu" generation, so Xuan Bei addressed them as "Uncle Masters". The number of monks in the temple who remained with the name of "Kong" was less than five.

"Fight violence with violence? Is that true to the Gist of Trueness?" asked the kind-eyed old monk as he shook his head.

The dried-up old monk said without any feeling, "Nephew Xuan Bei, have some patience. Why not let Zhen Ding remain in the Warrior-monk Yard for a bit longer until his temper is leveled through discipline?"

Xuan Bei turned towards the old monk, put his palms together and respectfully said, "Zhen Ding is young, moldable, and possesses an easily excitable temperament. You cannot blindly force him to change through discipline. Amitabha. Uncle Master Wu Si, please grant my humble request."

The dried-up old monk was named Wu Si. He was the head of the Bodhi Yard. He also was His Abbotship Kong Wen's first disciple, and Xuan Bei's formal master, whose Master was Kong Wen's younger disciple named Wu Kong, but had passed away from the attacks of evil demons before he entered the temple.

The kind-eyed monk's face fell and he said, "If he cannot accept discipline, then how can he learn the Teachings of Buddhism? Nephew Xuan Bei, why must you insist on taking on this disciple?"

Back to the same question.

He was without any distraction, yet Xuan Bei did not reply.

Wu Si knocked on the wooden fish and said, "Brother Wu Xiang, we all have the freedom to choose anyone to take on as a disciple, we need not discuss this any longer. Nephew Xuan Bei will have to take responsibility for his decision."

What he really meant was that if his disciple made a mistake one day, the master himself would be punished.

Xuan Bei nodded slowly. "I understand."

...

Looking at the dense green Bodhi trees, Meng Qi felt agitated and unsettled. Because he had received the award of the Bodhi Yard, he had not chosen to exchange for martial arts in the World of Samsara. Therefore, if his will could not come true, his martial arts progress would come to a standstill and it would be impossible for him to make great progress, thus making the next Samsara mission very dangerous.

Under normal circumstances, Pearfower Storm Needles, Bloody-Sword Bladesmanship, Ganoderma Elixir of Restoration, and Ananda Oath-breaking Bladesmanship would be learned after he had mastered the fundamentals.

If he had not received the award of the Bodhi Yard, Meng Qi would probably have chosen to study martial arts and Ananda Oath-breaking Bladesmanship, and at most, let Jiang Zhiwei and other friends collect a quiver of poison needles for him to equip himself with it.

He looked at the Bodhi trees, and then looked at Zhen Hui who was walking next to him. A question rose up in Meng Qi's mind, "If I am here to receive my award, then why let this Junior Brother accompany me?"

This question was the reason why he was upset.

"Junior Brother, what have you done recently?" Meng Qi could not help but ask.

Zhen Hui counted off on his fingers and replied honestly, "I go to class, fetch water, eat breakfast, study, eat lunch, practice martial arts, eat dinner, meditate, listen to stories, and sleep. Senior Brother, this is what I have done. Oh, also, I scolded the Commandment Yard."

"That's not what I meant." Meng Qi looked at the sky. "Do you know why you are allowed to come to the Bodhi Yard?"

Zhen Hui looked at Meng Qi with wide eyes. "Senior Brother, do you know the reason?"

He looked as if he had wanted to know it too.

"I don't know either," Meng Qi covered his face and replied.

After opening the gate to the courtyard, the two followed a young monk into a meditation room. Inside sat two older monks, both wearing yellow frocks and red cassocks. One looked around 40 years old. He was handsome but had a gloomy aura in him. It was Xuan Bei, who Meng Qi had seen before. The other monk resembled an old dried-up tree. His face was covered with wrinkles and nearly all of his beard and eyebrows had fallen out.

"Elder Master, Uncle Master, I've brought Zhen Ding and Zhen Hui." The young monk bowed respectfully and left the room.

"I am Wu Si, head of the Bodhi Yard." Hearing the dried-up old monk say this, Meng Qi and Zhen Hui quickly bowed in respect.

Wu Si distantly stated, "Zhen Hui, Xuan Bei wants to take you as a disciple. Are you willing?"

"What?" Meng Qi was shocked, but then the shock turned to ease. So the reason why Zhen Hui was asked to come was that he had been chosen by Xuan Bei, which had nothing to do with Meng Qi's award.

This guy was so dull, and yet had been chosen by such a highly skilled master. Meng Qi felt slightly jealous, but this emotion quickly faded. There were two reasons for this. For one thing, Zhen Hui was his good friend so he felt genuinely happy for him, and for another thing, Meng Qi had his own great secret, which would make it difficult to train under a master. So he had better learn some techniques while blending in with everyone else. When the opportunity came, he would leave Shaolin.

At first, a confused expression passed across Zhen Hui's face. It was followed by a look of happiness and hesitancy. He knelt to the ground and said, "Your disciple is willing, but I have one request."

"Usually disciples are overwhelmed with gratitude when they are chosen, no one ever comes with a request!" Wu Si lightheartedly scolded him. Faced with such a simple and innocent child as Zhen Hui, Wu Si did not feel annoyed.

Xuan Bei was not angry either, he nodded and said, "You are pure and honest. What is your request then?"

Zhen Hui did not lift his head. In a low and deep voice, he said, "Master, please take Senior Brother Zhen Ding as a disciple as well."

"What?" Meng Qi felt shocked once again, followed by a welling up of emotion. He did treat Zhen Hui well, often giving him guidance, but most of his energy was focused towards escaping the pressure brought on by his unknown crossing-the loneliness of being in a foreign land and the World of Samsara-so he could not say that his care towards Zhen Hui was completely sincere. Who would have thought that Zhen Hui would repay him with such an act of gratitude!

The corners of Xuan Bei's mouth rose into a grin and his gloominess lightened a bit. "You truly have love for your brother."

Hearing this, Meng Qi snapped back to his senses and resentfully looked at Zhen Hui. "Junior Brother, I know you are kind-hearted, but your Senior Brother does not want to study under a master! Please don't create problems with your good intentions!"

He looked at Zhen Hui, and then earnestly at Xuan Bei. "Do not agree, please do not satisfy his request!"

"Zhen Ding, I can sense your desire. Being that Zhen Hui has made this request, I cannot help but grant it," Xuan Bei answered. Though the smile on his face was slight, he was not displeased at all.

Seeing the smile on Xuan Bei's face, Wu Si said nothing, and only let out a sigh. Since entering Shaolin, Nephew Xuan Bei rarely smiled.

"There is no need to force the issue!" Meng Qi wanted to poke out his own eyes. Under these circumstances, there was no way he could say no, it would be far too unusual.

At most, one out of a hundred monks would decline an Elder's invitation, only if he had had a better option.

"Forget it. I'm looking for a chance to leave this place anyways. Perhaps under the instruction of a Master, that day will come even sooner!" Meng Qi suddenly came to this realization and knelt to the ground. "Master, I am your disciple."

After a bit of preparation, Meng Qi and Zhen Hui were officially named Xuan Bei's disciples in the Bodhi Yard. Many elders and monks from the Bodhi and Dharma Yards served as witnesses, and also Deacon Monks from the Commandment Yard and the Sundries Yard recorded the event.

When Xuan Kong, who was representing the Commandment Yard, entered the Bodhi Yard and saw Meng Qi and Zhen Hui kneeling before Xuan Bei, the blood drained from his face. With voice trembling, he asked the other monks, "They are becoming his disciples?"

After receiving confirmation, he was at first dumbfounded, and then utterly annoyed. Had he known Xuan Bei was going to choose Zhen Ding and Zhen Hui as his disciples, he would not have needed to arrange for Zhen Ding to miss the day when disciples were chosen. This would reflect poorly on him!

Seeing Xuan Kong's expression, Meng Qi's mood drastically improved and he suddenly felt much better about becoming a disciple.

This is just the way I am!

After an impressive ceremony, Meng Qi and Zhen Hui officially became disciples of Shaolin and also of His Abbotship.

...

"Now that you are my disciples, you can choose a technique to focus on. If your heart is Zen and you understand the Teachings of Buddhism, you can learn 'Mo-Ke Exorcism Punch' and 'True Scripture from Grand Phantasia'. At the same time, you will have the opportunity to learn 'Muscle-bone Strengthening Scripture' and observe the third stage of 'The Buddha's Palm'." According to the usual practice, Xuan Bei gave his new disciples, Meng Qi and Zhen Hui, a positive outlook of their rosy prospects.

Of course, the chances that they would see "The Buddha's Palm" or learn "Muscle-bone Strengthening Scripture" were extremely slim among the lineal disciples.

Hearing this, Meng Qi got a little excited, but he had already been through a few cycles of reincarnation and knew that all this talk was empty. What was important was to choose a technique from the 72 Ultimate Arts to learn.

"After observing me, Master will surely decide that I am suited to learn such techniques as Form Denial Finger or Flower-pinching Finger. Unfortunately, I will let him down, because I must focus on learning Golden Bell Shield or Vajra Unbreakable Force." Meng Qi comforted himself as he mulled over his situation.

"Zhen Ding, you choose Golden Bell Shield," Xuan Bei said quietly.